Saint Leo Named One Of Bon Appétit’s 50 “Best New Restaurants In America”

Bon Appétit Magazine has named their top 50 finalists for 2017’s “Best New Restaurant In America,” and Oxford’s own Saint Leo made the list.

Opened by Emily Blount in July 2016, Saint Leo quickly became a local favorite for their take on an Italian menu with a bit of a Southern twist. The culinary magazine seems to agree with the people of Oxford and describes the new restaurant as “Wood-fired pizza in a food-obsessed Southern college town.”

While everyone’s tastes are different, Bon Appétit has made their sections for their favorite items on the menu.

GO HERE: for smoke-tinged pies made with quality ingredients (think Sweet Grass Dairy Tomme (a French-style table cheese) on the asparagus pie) and Italian-leaning sides (like farro with arugula pesto and radishes) in a Mississippi region known for serious Southern cooking.

ORDER THE: fat Sicilian green olives marinated in garlic and chile flakes, a couple of the market-driven sides like the healthyish Little Gem salad with nutritional yeast, and the crown jewels: wood-fired pizzas—choose any that have fresh mozzarella.

Blount came to Oxford by way of New York, so it’s no surprise how Bon Appétit described the atmosphere of Saint Leo. 

THE VIBE IS: straight out of OG New York but with touches of the deep South.

While we don’t know how much time the reviewers, Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer, spent in Oxford it’s clear that they learned a thing or two about the local culture while they were here; things get crowded during the fall, and not all of the food around town is upscale.

GETTING IN: is going to be near impossible on Ole Miss game weekends, when the town’s population balloons. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it’s pretty manageable on non-football days.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN A COLLEGE TOWN WHEN: a restaurant is open late—’til 1 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and midnight on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Head to Saint Leo if you drank like a freshman but don’t want to eat like one (for that, get the chicken on a stick at the local Chevron).

Saint Leo was also named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Resturant” award back in February.

The top 10 winners will be announced on August 15. View the complete list of finalists here.

Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of He can be reached at

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